Skip to content
10.7 °Cforecast >

Living well in an unravelling world

Author, teacher, environmentalist coming to Guelph

Joanna Macy, author, environmental activist and scholar of Buddhism, has spent decades helping others cope with despair in an unravelling world. She will be spending 10 days in Guelph beginning May 9 doing just that.

Barbara Booth of the Sacred Wisdom Centre is bringing Macy to Guelph. Booth, a resident of Guelph, trained in Calfornia with Macy and other important teachers who seek spiritual solutions to contemporary problems.

Through Booth’s connections in that community of thinkers and doers, she is able to bring high-profile, internationally known speakers/teachers to Guelph. The Sacred Wisdom Centre has been around for nearly a decade.

Booth was previously a psychological consultant for school boards before becoming immersed in teachings and practices rooted in human spirituality. She achieved a Doctor of Ministry from her studies, primarily in the U.S.

“I’m bringing these teachers who I know from my [past] experience back to Guelph,” she said. “I normally wouldn’t be able to get them because they are too high-profile. I feel really fortunate to be able to do that.”

Macy, 87, continues to travel the world giving lectures, workshops and training that helps others understand the source of their suffering, what it takes to live a more fulfilling life, and how to bring people together to build community in meaningful and sustainable ways.

She is the author of eight popular books, including Active Hope: Hope to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy, and Coming Back to Life. She is also a noted translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.  

Macy will kick off her visit with a presentation Monday evening from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Arboretum Centre on the University of Guelph campus. The event is open to the public. The title of the event offers some insight into Macy’s raison d’etre — “Spiritual Responses to the Great Unravelling: Guidance for the Way Forward from Earth’s Faith Traditions.”

A great many things are unravelling in our culture, said Booth — the environment, the trustworthiness of our institutions, and relationships. Things we assumed were sustainable and would go on forever, are coming apart.

“There is an unravelling aspect happening around us,” Booth said. “One of Joanna’s main things is to honour the difficulties that we see, instead of just sweeping them under the rug. We can move on to healing once we acknowledge the truth of what is.”

Denying that we are all affected by the various dysfunctions of the world we live in is unrealistic,” Booth added. “We might as well just face that at some level it is getting to us, even if it’s not always conscious.”

Macy will spend 10 days in Guelph conducting a retreat at the Loyola House of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. She will be joined by fellow Californian Anne Symens-Bucher, a peace activist and secular Franciscan.

“Theory and Practice of the Work that Reconnects” runs at Ignatius through to May 19. Click here to learn more.

Admission for Monday evening’s presentation at the Arboretum is $20, or $10, depending on financial circumstances. Booth has brought Macy to Guelph a number of times in the past.

Mental health challenges, heightened levels of stress and anxiety, a sense that there is never enough time, or that life is spinning out of control — all are symptomatic of the tumultuous times we live in. They are the direct impacts that present conditions have on our well-being, Booth indicated.

“Joanna has been doing this for 50 years,” she added. “And she is amazing, vibrant and brilliant, with lots of energy.”

Both the presentation and Loyola House intensive retreat will be of interest to people “who have a moment to think,” Booth said. People are coming from around the world to attend the retreat, including from Ireland, Jordan, and Austria.

“The intention is to bring personal skills and community-building skills to what is happening with our world, and to the pain we feel around it,” Booth added.